In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week: In honor of this week’s theme, we’re doing songs with Star Wars references.
“Weird Al” Yankovic, “Yoda” (1985)
“Weird Al” Yankovic and Star Wars are the chocolate and peanut butter of nerdom. So having the beloved parody songwriter create a song about the franchise’s most thoughtful Muppet is as right and sensible as anything in this crazy world.
Based off of The Kinks’ “Lola,” Yankovic originally wrote “Yoda” shortly after Empire Strikes Back released in theaters. For five years, it existed solely as a stripped-down accordion version played on Dr. Demento’s radio show. When “Weird Al” finally secured licensing okays from both Lucasfilm and songwriter Ray Davies, he re-recorded the track for his third album, Dare To Be Stupid.
Most of the song is a fairly straight-forward recap of the path to becoming a Jedi told from Luke’s perspective, culminating in this solemn piece of advice from Yoda:
He said, “Luke, stay away from the darker side
And if you start to go astray, let the Force be your guide”
That’s when the message tilts toward a more meta justification for showing mercy:
I know Darth Vader’s really got you annoyed
But remember, if you kill him, then you’ll be unemployed
It’s always a reliably good time to make fun of a movie franchise’s capacity for stubborn self-perpetuation, as evidenced by Back To The Future 2’s Jaws XIX marquee hologram. But now, when Episode VII is so close to release 38 years after the original, “Yoda” proves prescient:
Well, I heard my friends really got in a mess
So I’m gonna have to leave Yoda I guess
But I know that I’ll be coming back some day
I’ll be playing this part ‘till I’m old and gray
The long-term contract I had to sign
Says I’ll be making these movies till the end of time
It’s the kind of near-prophetic vision that gives weight to the idea that “Weird Al” himself may be a Jedi. Or at least a guy with a thorough understanding of common pop-cultural trends.